I don't even remember what this ship does, it's just a void of memory compared to the godly Zoltan A and terrible Zoltan C. Oh yeah, it's the one with the weak shields system, and two ion blasts with a pike beam. DO NOT be tempted by ion garbage, swap that out for bursts as soon as you can.
Sector 1: Ooh nice free crew on the first fight, you go to piloting to put zoltan power on a real system of course. I learned how to use this ship quickly: like Engi A, the best target for the ion guns is WEAPONS, one ion hit takes a lot of time to recover. Also you can fire the ions as soon as they charge, the ion will last just long enough for the pike to also hit, or if the ions miss then you also get a second shot shortly after the pike charges. HA HA FUCK YOU shield hacking event YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE. First 100 scrap to shields. Store trying hard to tempt me into more ions, but no we shall not bite on that, put the scrap into shields layer 2 instead.
Sector 2 picked Nebula over Mantis, not sharp at dealing with boarders yet. Got an evasion trainer, and a very nice one, with that chain laser speeding up to do it faster, also weapon and shield skill to boot.
Sector 3 Pirate over Abandoned: Can barely deal with 2-shield ships, the two ion guns with max weapon skill can barely go fast enough to stack ion damage, but not happy about it of course. But here's a store with weapons. Interesting choices; I love the Halberd but really the right way to do this is the 4-shot charge laser, I already have a good beam, I need shield punchers. Even with that, took a fucking pounding on this fight, the bomb and missile hit me over and over, my first charge volley ALL MISSED, it also broke my engines so I couldn't run took fucking SEVENTEEN HULL DAMAGE before the ship ran out of missiles and bombs. At least a slaver gave a mantis next and a nebula event gave a human, so good for crew now.
Sector 4 Slug Nebula or Abandoned are both bad choices, but I think I'm worse off against Slug high shields, can probably handle Lanius okay. Shields to layer 3. Realized I should have kept one of the ion blasts instead of selling it, just as one projectile on one power to get through one shield layer, that use of an ion is fine. Got to a store for repairs. Then boom, a FLAK, and we're set on weapons forever.
Sector 5 Pirate over Mantis Homeworlds, still not all that confident against Mantis boarders. HA, thanks? Yeah, beams everywhere!
Sector 6 Rebel over Mantis: Got enough offense, but could really use some defensive systems, took another 8-damage hull pounding from a ship with double missiles until it ran out. Finally found a store (had to look everywhere in the sector -- this is one highly underrated aspect of "never found weapons so RNG killed me" complaints -- did you plan your path to look at every beacon to find the stores?) and bought cloaking, and also went with drone control even though it's just a system repair drone, could actually use that with no engi crew. Cool, blue event for it even.
Sector 7 Rock Controlled, not optimal. Good call on the drone system, next store did have a defense drone.
Sector 8: Sadly never found hacking, really wanted to use a multiple-beam setup on the flagship. Flak + Charge Laser + Pike Beam isn't the greatest set of offense, just gotta hope it's enough. Saved up 666 scrap! WAIT YES THERE IS A STORE at the very last possible beacon! Ha ha ha, very funny game. Did buy a Heavy Laser to shore up offense. Phase one: pre-cloaked full 15 seconds, that heavy laser made the difference on breaking the missile weapon before it shot, won easily enough from there although didn't have the firepower to kill any crew. Phase two: pre-cloaked 5 seconds, so it recycled in time for the drone surge, second drone surge clipped me for 1 damage just before we won on the fourth Pike swipe. Phase three, swapped in a beam drone to go after the super shield. Battle started well enough (only one missile hit my super shield) that I decided not to jump away to kill off crew, heavy laser hit to break missile weapon again, got slightly hectic fending off boarders but we did the usual to cloak past the laser surges and win just before the third.
2060 scrap is monstrously high for never having LRS! Another solid textbook win.
Sector 1: Well at least the first fight is easy, shieldless autoscout. Second fight has an anti-drone AND a beam drone AND a missile, fuck that cancer, all we can do is run... and the missile hit my shields so I'm a sitting duck to the beam drone, missile hit piloting next, but got the fuck out of there with only eight damage taken. Fuck, THIS is a problem: Solar flare hit clone bay, I had to vent that entire half of the ship, then the DOORS got shot and the zoltans won't have enough health to repair them!! And they don't heal on jumping if clone bay is broken! Just had to keep going and fighting several fights like that! And fuck you another anti-drone!, at least I managed to ion weapons long enough to run away cleanly. Limped in to a store... nope no way to fix the clone bay problem, no crew or repair drone or repair burst. Small Bomb is a godsend though, have to take that and upgrade weapons to use it.
Sector 2 WELL FUCK YOU well I can't do any fucking thing about mantis at all, zoltan is my only choice, gotta pray for some free scrap events. Now you have TWO fucking anti-drones?!?!?! Decided had to run again, even if I can win I'll blow a shitton of damage and drone parts. OK, well there's a glimmer of hope. CRAP: that ship has a teleporter, if the super shield drops and any Mantis get over MY CREW WILL DIE, my only chance is to bomb it before they get past the z-shield, fortunately they have only one gun, oh for fuck's sake of course my bomb missed, well aim the triple ion at weapons is my only chance, THANK YOU BEAM DRONE DEAR GOD. My entire life is still hanging by three threads of super shield but I won. Store and yeah look at all those goodies but my only chance at all is to sell the anti-drone to buy a crew with enough health to get in there and fix those doors and we just made it back to health. Oh and put the slug on piloting and I do get to salvage a zoltan power bar out of that. Next store still no offense available but did buy a defense drone, that should help. Got another Slug from a slaver, put that on doors.
Sector 3 Mantis over Nebula, I think we can handle them now, and need to hope for weak-shielded ships, I can barely deal with 2 shields, only way is to bomb one shield layer then ion the next. Finally scratched out 50 pennies of scrap to upgrade regular shields. Store, had to pass up a 2-shot charge laser, can't blow 55 more scrap on that. This will help a lot: like everything else about my ship, this is unwieldy as fuck, but will work as an evasion trainer: my d-drone ran them out of missiles, so their only gun is the ion, which will always hit my shield as long as I keep two zoltans in the shield room!, so I can do evasion training and also weapons with my own ion.
Sector 4 Engi over nebula: HOLY MIRACLE IT'S AN ACTUAL FREAKIN WEAPON. And another at the next store, which I could afford plus weapons to level 5 if I sold the charge ion and beam drone, DONE, fuck this ion and drone garbage, now we've got burst lasers like a real damn ship. Right call, next fight had an anti-drone yet again.
ARE YOU SERIOUS, EIGHT projectiles of burst lasers PLUS a boarding event ... FUCK FUCK FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUUUUUCK and even more of them died when all my power was gone and shields weren't up and the next laser barrage hit and killed a zoltan who was low from fire and when it was all over I had ONE CREWMAN LEFT. With no power from four dead zoltans I had to hit my battery just to run the weapons and was dead when it ran out. The next mantis landed in my clone bay and I couldn't kill him (my guy would lose head to head and then he'd break clone bay) so I actually just gave up and let him eat my last pilot.
FUCK YOU TO ETERNAL FUCKING GODDAMN HELL ZOLTAN C IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST PILE OF SHITTASTIC SHIP THAT EVER GARBAGED. Breaks the streak at 21 straight victories with 20 unique ships. God fucking damn it.
Sector 1: First jump has a zoltan shield -- tempting as it is to start the beam drone right now, it's correct to let my own ion charge up and save the battery and wait until my own shield drops so the battery will power regular shields and the drone at the same time. Then I correctly fired my ion to stun weapons to buy time (for my bloody battery to recycle.) More fights went similarly. Store, no can't use any of those weapons well enough, not hacking either for the price, did buy a human crew to get the zoltan's power off piloting. This helps a LOT: got a lucky ship with only a single laser to be a trainer for evasion and also weapons with the ion and also even shield skill. THAT's a quest I'll take, and now shields to layer 2 plus the power bar to use it.
This run through sector 1 went polar oppositely better than the previous. I got a LOT of scrap, almost 200 total plus the reactor upgrade and full skill training. I got several big and double scrap payouts, and I think not a single empty or dud beacon in the whole sector, and the exit was very late for even more beacons. Now I was actually getting pretty confident - could run layer 2 shields and the charge ion at the same time even without the battery, to buy time by ioning the weapons during battery cooldowns.
Sector 2 Civilian over Abandoned, not THAT confident. Well I guess this ship is a Warlord! Map reveal, that is beautiful, tons of fights lots of stores, also amusingly the two nebula clouds are identical pixel for pixel. This was a hilarious situation: the enemy drone got trapped right in front of my ion gun, which kept re-stunning it faster than it could recover!, I let that go on on purpose while my battery recharged. Then it happened again, and this time it COST ME A FIGHT as all my ion shots got blocked by the depowered drone and I couldn't deal any damage while it ran away! Anyway, first of the stores: the pike beam is the right call -- but good thing I also jumped to the next store before upgrading weapons, since that had Long-Ranged Scanners, and also sell the beam drone for a combat drone instead, I need to pop shields to use my own beam weapon, that will make a big difference getting through 2-shield ships.
Sector 3 Civilian over Mantis Homeworlds, still not that confident against boarders, okay maybe I am! Now did upgrade weapons to 4 to use charge ion and pike beam together, and holy miraculous fuck we're actually playing a real ship now. Rock crew from a nebula event, also beautiful, put him on doors, between that and an anti-personnel drone now pretty confident even against boarders now. Next store, got the option to sell pike beam for a Halberd instead, I say yes, the halberd punches way harder particularly when I don't get through the last shield. Distraction Buoys also on sale and I was tempted, but nah, we need early game income, a weapons upgrade now will make the difference but payback like three sectors later won't.
Sector 4 Slug Nebula is only option: Lots of fights and income via LRS. Combat drone proved to be absolutely key: vs 3-shield ships, charge ion would reliably get past one shield but no more, so the combat drone could pop one more shield for the Halberd to connect. Got a Slug crew who came with piloting skill, made him the pilot because can't be MCed. Saved up 300 scrap throughout the sector for a store (that I saw long before going to it), rewarded with Cloaking and also a heavy laser.
Sector 5 Zoltan over Abandoned, should be able to handle z-shields between the charge ion and combat drone. THAT is a tough call, hacking or pre-igniter... nah it's pretty obvious in favor of hacking, my charge ion doesn't work great with a pre-igniter. Now everything was easy, hack shields and gash with Halberd.
Sector 6 Zoltan Homeworlds: LRS continued to find good income, store bought a defense drone. With 7 crew decided to risk the Great Eye of Zoltan event (25% chance to lose one crew and clone bay doesn't help) and got uh that doesn't help. Next store bought a 2-shot charge laser, a little smoother than the charge ion, but then weapons to 8 to use both together for a loadout of Charge Ion + Charge Laser + Heavy Laser + Halberd.
Sector 7 Engi over Slug Nebula: More income. EAT IT GIANT ALIEN SPIDERS! Store has a Burst Laser 3... I decided, yes, good idea to sell and swap out the charge ion and charge laser for that instead, better to have one big projectile burst than faff around with ion stuff, less likely to make some kind of fatal mistake. Also the Burst 3 occupies only one slot so I can put a fire beam that had dropped in the fourth slot, not for general use, but get a crew kill if I can, and also obviously for flagship phase one. And THAT makes the Burst 3 spectacular!! Cool, free level-5 engines upgrade, rarely see this late enough to get that much value from it. Ha, at the very last beacon, of course the pod is useless, although so was the weapon (Stun Bomb.)
Sector 8: about five fights before the flagship and one repair node, though didn't yield a lot of income. Phase one, preignited Burst 3 and the Halberd, but then switched the Burst 3 off to use the Fire Beam instead along with shields hacking. I tried way too hard to kill crew with fire, let the missile weapon launch far too many times (like five or six), took quite a bit of unnecessary damage (8) thanks to my piloting getting hacked and poorly timed cloaking leaving me open to missile hits. Phase two, also took a little unnecessary damage from the drone surge mistimed with cloaking, but this time did get a LOT of fire beam crew kills. Phase three went super easy, my zoltan shield absorbed first missile volley, my preignited volley plus one more stripped the super shield, hacked regular shields, cloaked past laser surge, textbook kill on the second Halberd swipe from there, zero damage taken on phase three.
2140 scrap is monstrous for a gunship, but even with that and a Halberd, I still felt Zoltan C got up to just decent at best. You really never outgrow its power problems, you just learn to live with it, but blessedly now I never have to deal with this garbage again.
Like Zoltan A, I need to redo Fed A for an unlock achievement. The real big question is whether to try for the Artillery Mastery achievement (reach sector 5 without upgrading weapons) or rely on Diplomatic Immunity (use your crew in 4 blue events by the end of sector 5.) Don't have to decide right away.
Sector 1: Bad start: first fight hit me for four damage with missiles, second fight ran away after damaging my weapons and triggered a double fleet advance. Third jump...
the FUCKING UNFAIR SHIELDS HACK EVENT. With of course a fucking beam drone. Which fucking shot my fucking weapon. Then a missile hit artillery. Then drone shot weapons again. Then a missile hit piloting so can't run. And there goes a really truly 100% absolutely impossible fuck you up the ass with a machete death. This doesn't even count as a game. A game has interesting decisions and I made none.
The pain in the ass got me over with instead. Second loss, so now 22 wins in 24 games.
Sector 1: okay, that's something of an interesting start? But first 50 scrap to shields to avoid a repeat of that fuckening. Yeah THAT FUCKENING HOLY FUCK YOU RIGHT BACK. Got a trainer for evasion skill, shields, and also even weapons by firing the anti-bio beam! First store is absolutely useless, though sell that charge ion that dropped. Slaver gave an Engi crew, and a Mantis from another event, nice although duplicates don't help for blue crew options.
Sector 2: OK, could have a good map for blue crew events, if we can get a Lanius in the abandoned sector and then hopefully some friendly Engi and Zoltan sectors beyond. Store has no crew... but does have Hacking. That might be the one way we can make Artillery Mastery. Next store didn't have crew either, but did have Long-Ranged Scanners, only way to afford it is to sell something, I ditched the bio beam, take a pass on that gimmick.
Sector 3: well there's the Engi sector I wanted. Hacking to level 2, only good way to win fights for now is hacking shields, and that requires L2, since L1 hacking sometimes stops an instant short of draining two shields. OK, well one blue event. Second blue event, the "malfunctioning Mantis".
Sector 4: OK, lots of Engi sectors! Had to pick the Homeworlds since the stealth unlock quest that occurs there is a blue event. Engi Virus event - the hacking option is better value and don't have to fight, but we need the blue crew event. Had to win the fight by hacking shields (thank god for the depower trick) and slooowly getting one damage at a time past the DD2, fortunately every hit on weapons knocked out their charge ion so no threat, and eventually it worked. A 3-shield Mantis ship in sector 4?, well hacking can still take care of it, and my BL2 even got first strike on theirs thanks to max skill vs unmanned. Got a crew kill on this ship by breaking oxygen and the hacked shields doors kept the engi out of it to repair -- then the engi even teleported to me! -- and nice reward, that will help once we pass the achievement and can upgrade weapons. But BINGO, there's my fourth blue crew event -- the stealth unlock quest exactly as I identified. But we were close enough to the exit anyway (about four jumps) that I decided out of sheer bloodymindedness to push through and get Artillery Mastery anyway (and I used the artillery like twice ever.) On the way decided to just take a pirate bribe rather than fight. Also got cloaking at a store.
OK, clear on the achievements, but still want to rack this one up towards win rate.
Sector 5 Mantis: Still somewhat behind the power curve on upgrades after spending on hacking and cloaking and missing a few kills that ran away. But have no more system purchases left to make, and LRS should be able to find enough income. Finally upgraded weapons, first to use burst 2 + small bomb, then no this store doesn't help, so to level 5 to use burst 2 + charge laser + small bomb all together. Got another crew kill by bombing oxygen with only slow mantis to repair it. Gradually got decent income and some upgrades, shields to layer 3.
Sector 6 Pirate: Now great income, LRS found I think 9 straight fights then a store, caught back up on upgrades. Weapons still barely adequate but hacking is more than adequate as always. Then last store added a Flak and weapons to 7 to use it and that should be game over in my favor. (All my weapons are fast so not worth trading out one for the 4-shot charge laser.)
Sector 7 picked Mantis over Zoltan, can handle boarders fine and better than z-shields I think. More good income. No those weapons are not an upgrade, not falling for that fire beam shit again. Last store YES PLEASE, sell the charge laser and weapons to 8. Got a crew kill: two teleported to me, I killed their engi with focused fire on the weapons room, and the only remaining mantis was too stupid to go repair bombed oxygen until beyond too late -- and HA THERE IS A REWARD ALRIGHT! This time I just swapped in both beams right away, since I already know I have enough drone parts to hack shields on every single fight to go - that's one advantage of never buying drone control (locked out by artillery) - plenty of drone parts for hacking.
Sector 8: Double Halberds in every fight is a thrill, that can guaranteed break piloting on everything, meaning the Burst 2 can fire just after that and guaranteed hit too. Three fights and two repair nodes before the base as if we needed more overkill. Phase one shredded piloting-shields-missile with both Halberds and used the burst laser to shoot out cloaking to speed up winning on the second HalberdHalberd stroke. Phase two I think was GUARANTEED to be a zero-damage kill as long as the hacking depower trick worked which it did - double halberds break missile weapon before it fired, cloak past drone surge, win on the second stroke again. (Didn't kill crew but didn't care, I got max doors and two mantises to fight off boarders well enough.)
Phase three decided to cloak past missile weapon, let the flagship laser surge, see if my evasion and shields would hold up, and if not which it didn't, jump back to base right at this instant mid-laser-surge before any impacted. Second attempt, couldn't manage a zero damage win, had no way to stop the missile weapon from scoring several hits, but any result short of 3 damage to weapons meant I again had a guaranteed win in two strokes after stripping the super shield. (Should have been two strokes, but somehow I missed a point of damage somewhere, but the next burst laser shot did it.)
2000 scrap, another big solid gunship run.
Almost exactly the same as Fed A, weapons slightly worse, crew slightly worse, level-2 artillery slightly more useful for slightly longer. At least we don't have to chase achievements this time.
Sector 1: Got 50 scrap but then next jump is a store. Tough call there, the Heavy Laser or Pike Beam are both solid options... but nah, I think I'm better off with shields layer 2 first, defense is more important when I do have the artillery for like good-enough B-minus offense, and the Fed B does come with a good amount of power to put into the shields right away. Also 2 shields should allow an evasion trainer... and then the joke was on me as the next ship is a trainer with just 1 laser -- and would also have been a weapons trainer with the Pike but can't with the dual laser! (It's actually possible to fire the dual laser without hurting a single-shield target - fire it and very quickly depower it before its second projectile, but even I'm not that crazy to do that 130 times for skill.) Human crew from a slaver.
Sector 2 Pirate over Nebula: Crew kill with this procedure: let one boarder board me and port back at low health, let second boarder board me and kill him, then kill the first one still at low health with laser shots... and that dropped a Burst Laser 3! Yes, upgrade weapons to 4 to use that at first opportunity. Another human crew from another slaver. Wasted two jumps going through stores with nothing to spend and no other direction to go... and holy crap look at all the goodies in the second store, but not selling the Burst 3 for LRS. Another crew kill, via suffocation with only slow mantis to repair -- yielded a Flak!!, yes that plus dual laser and Leto is better than the Burst 3 -- and remembered that flak needs to go in slot 3 or 4 on a fed ship so the slower projectiles are closer to the target. Also Flak exactly matching the dual laser charge time is very convenient -- don't fire them together at first, but once you do it once with the right time interval from flak so the laser impacts just afterwards, you can autofire them from there and they will maintain that correctly staggered interval. Rock crew from a nebula event, things are going great.
Sector 3 Civilian: Trainer - a 1-laser ship in sector 3 is unusual - that can now max weapon skill (shoot the dual laser vs 2 shields), and also evasion to switch the Rock onto piloting. Map reveal partway through, good amount of fights and stores. Shields to layer 3, early for that but we're doing great. Miscounted jumps through some nebula beacons and had to rebel-dive twice to the exit, but ASB luckily missed both times.
Sector 4 Engi Homeworlds: Store sold a SECOND FLAK HELL YES. But terrible sector for income, only two fights the whole time, like five blank/dud beacons.
Sector 5 well I guess we're going Slug Controlled Nebula: now THAT is a surrender offer worth taking! (Most likely not to use, but the sell value is huge.) Store and that's a lot of options - hacking and drones but not cloaking. I didn't really want to go with drone control over one of the other two, but I was tired of taking a pounding from Slug missiles in three fights already, and if there's any run that can live without hacking it's one that's already got double flak, so the plan is to buy drones now and cloaking later and skip hacking (blocked by the arty system slot.) Also bought the LRS of course, and without cloaking to buy charge time, yes just sell the Vulcan. GOOD CALL, very next ship has a big missile, need that d-drone. Interesting tactic here in an ion storm: see the enemy ship has one missile and one laser active, which I can stop with defense drone and one shield -- so make sure I DON'T damage it in a way that will cause it to allocate power someway else, therefore aim at only piloting! Next store really tough call, has cloaking but I'm just short of affording it, could do so by selling LRS... but nah, need to spend some money on buying fuel plus can also buy a scrap recovery arm. Next store... I always want to add a beam to my bursty loadouts... but I think I can't do it here, Flak + Glaive is the single worst discrepancy between bursts and beams for speed; also decided the chain laser wasn't quite good enough to add either.
Sector 6 Engi over Rock, still never confident vs Rock without both defense drone and cloaking. First store had cloaking and also an Automated Re-loader also, perfect and that should be enough for a win from here. And that is definitely enough for a win.
Sector 7 Pirate over Slug nebula duh: Upgraded weapons to 7 to use Flak + Flak + Burst 1 + Dual Laser all together. OH HELL YEAH, weapons to 8 for Flak + Flak + Dual Laser + Halberd. (And also just enough fuel in that drop to reach the next store.) Although actually I'm not entirely sure if the Halberd running at 17 second charge is actually better than having the whole loadout at 10-12 seconds instead -- nah after a few fights of seeing the glorious Halberd at work, yeah it's well worth the speed drop. Store bought a Mantis to shore up any weakness against boarders. Then got another mantis cheap even! Oh god if we only had hacking to drain shields, but can't pair multiple beams without that.
Sector 8: Started very far away from base, 6 fights plus a repair node before the base, a fortune of scrap. Except I stupidly didn't realize the last node before base became overtaken so I couldn't spend it before phase one! But I knew I was more than powerful enough anyway: pre-cloak 10 seconds, then my halberd could break the missile weapon before it fired. Slightly touchy when the flagship hacked my weapons! (d-drone fired from an instant just too far away), but fortunately my halberd's second shot fired an instant before the second hacking drain (this doesn't stop the weapon if it's already into its firing animation) and I won before any missiles ever launched. Now we could spend scrap on all the upgrades; I thought about the artillery beam, but the fatal problem is power, there's just 25 more important uses of power bars and you can't have any more (never found battery.) And my halberd should already kill in two 14-second max-skilled charges, that's faster than a 30-second arty beam charge anyway.
Phase two, usual tactic of pre-cloak 5 seconds which buys enough time for the Halberd to break missile weapon before it fires. Hilarious moment on the drone surge: my dual laser shot down not just one but TWO ENEMY DRONES! The drone surge had come very early - my cloaking recycled about 2/3 through it - but I didn't need that anyway as my shields held up. Won on my
second Halberd stroke actually third after my second flak volley just whiffed entirely. Phase three: got a great start: stripped the super shield quickly (second flak volley), no problem with boarders (easily vented) or MC (on a mantis in med bay), so decided the jump-back-to-base restart wasn't necessary. Did take some chips from the missile weapon, but as always cloaked past one laser surge and won on the second Halberd stroke before another, routine enough that I never bothered to grab a picture.
1900 scrap is high but felt higher, had a good amount of drop sell value, and also spent on one less system than typical (no drones) because arty beam occupying the slot.
This is the weirdest and worst-designed ship in the game. It has an artillery flak and a teleporter. They are a terrible combo, so what the hell is going on here?
The answer: Fed C is really Zoltan D adopted by an overbearing Federation stepfather. What you're supposed to do is use the two Zoltans for boarding for their death bomb damage, then bring them back with the clone bay. But Zoltan C already existed with a different gimmick, so this had to go on a Federation ship as the only other option that could justify starting with two Zoltan crew. But because it's a Federation ship, it has to have an artillery system, and because it's a C, it has to have a twist on it. The resulting conglomerated unholy mess is rightfully known as the clunkiest design and worst anti-synergy in the game. Worst, both the teleporter and arty consume system slots, leaving you only one choice out of hacking/cloaking/drones where most ships want all three and every other gets at least two.
That all said, the artillery flak isn't terrible by itself. Why? It's just as unfocused and power-sucking and slow as the regular arty beam, and doesn't even pierce shields. The critical difference is that the arty flak can clear the way for focused damage. It's actually fairly decent to effectively have an extra Flak 2 operating outside the weapons system, not consuming a gun slot or weapons power. Fed C is actually the only ship that can rely on a two-beam loadout without hacking, thanks to the arty flak reliably stripping shields; and that actually can be good support for boarding in breaking medbay and weapons at the same time. I'm not sure if it's the best option to ever build the ship that way, but it could come up.
Sector 1: First jump an autoscout at a solar flare... I have to just send the boarders and just take the wild chance that the flares and missile don't break clone bay, and it did work, one flare dealt no actual damage and the arty flak fired to win before a second flare. With a clone bay, can risk the giant alien spiders, though only got a small payout. First 50 scrap to shields. Nice, this gave an Engi crew. Next an evasion trainer, although a slow one with one gun, and can't do weapon skill (obviously) or shield (ion damage doesn't proc shield skill). And another Engi. Another risky fight -- if that bomb hits my clone bay at the wrong time, I lose the run; decided the best approach was to leave both Engi parked in clone bay to repair it super fast if necessary. Next fight I figured out and understood a tactic I'd read about but hadn't really internalized: Keep two guys running in and out of their shield room, to distract the crew but WITHOUT hurting them so they DON'T run to medbay, while my other two sit in medbay to break it, then once medbay is broken then I can win the fight head to head. Very productive sector, lots of fights, almost no dangerous threats with missiles.
Sector 2: Uncharted Nebula is better than zoltan, z-shields take forever with only the arty flak. Another teleporter nebula event gave a human crew, decided to make him and the Mantis the boarding team - you really don't want to use zoltans for boarding - note that despite the death bomb a Zoltan boarder doesn't deal more crew damage than anyone else because his health runs out sooner. HAHA yeah you hack my weapons you dumbass. (Although this is another fight where I had to be careful on standby to repair clone bay ASAFP if necessary.) Saved up a lot of scrap and got to a store late in the sector... wide spread of options, available are Cloaking, drone system (with combat drone; defense drone sold separately), and a Halberd on page 2. The big question is whether to ever upgrade the artillery flak; I could do that now plus the Halberd for offense. I finally decided that the decision could be deferred: take both cloaking and the halberd now, but not necessary to decide just yet about upgrading the arty, we can see if we get any good weapons for shield punchers or not. Even though that makes no actual offense upgrade just now (need two levels of weapon system power to use the Halberd at all and even then it won't pass two shields), I think cloaking is enough defense to buy enough time for the moment.
Sector 3 Engi Homeworlds over Civilian: Lots of free scrap payout events. Store has a PRE-IGNITER AND AUTOMATED RE-LOADER, I think that clinches it that we'll rely on weapons and not the arty flak. Still winning fights almost always by boarding, only occasionally have to wait for the arty flak to strip shields for the halberd to break a med bay.
Sector 4 Rock Controlled, this could be a challenge. Ha, an asteroid field is one way to use a pre-ignited halberd against 2 shields! A subtle advantage of boarding vs Rock ships: it takes a long time for more bodies to get to you, so I like to port into piloting where there's always one guy but sometimes a long way away from more, sometimes we can get the pilot's health down to half or less by the time backup arrives. Still won most fights by boarding, easy vs no medbay of course, but if there was then cloaking usually was enough defense to wait for the arty flak to strip shields for the Halberd. Felt I was dancing with the devil an awful lot, this ramshackle approach shouldn't have been working, but surprisingly I still won most fights with little trouble, cloaking just goes THAT FAR on defense. THAT is interesting, not the greatest way to clear shields for a preignited Halberd, and costs three more weapon system levels, but could be doable eventually. Store late in the sector, no helpful weapon, but a second auto-reloader on the other page.
Sector 5 Uncharted nebula is better than Slug nebula: Finally got weapons to 6 to use the ion 2 + halberd together, so now somewhat turning the corner on reliable offense. Another not very helpful weapon. Used a shieldless autoscout for weapons training with the ion blast! I did have to keep an eye on it and cloak if the ioning wore off and the weapons shot -- which did happen -- I really don't understand the people who claim you can stack ion stunlock like this, it really demonstrably just doesn't work against any decent amount of evasion or cloaking, and if you really have 4-5 power of ion weapons you don't have any space or power left for damage. Anyway, shields somewhat belatedly to layer 3 late in the sector.
Sector 6: took Zoltan Homeworlds over Rock Controlled, a preignited halberd will strip a super shield great. Although the devil dancing nearly finally caught up, in a plasma storm fight against a ship that somehow had a Glaive that stayed up and functioning the whole time, hit me twice for about ten damage. And here, a boarding event with FIVE zoltans plus my doors guy got mind-controlled, but whew that missile missed clone bay!, and then I heard their cloning bay cloning all those dead zoltans, so no chance to win this by boarding, just kill by halberd. Got the Zoltan ship quest, but only the envoy, not the zoltan shield, could really have used that. Decided to rearrange the crew as Envoy on engines, dismiss one engi to make room, park the other two zoltans in shields and to be a secondary boarding team, and upgraded teleporter now to be able to send them faster. Had to go back to the flak artillery here: the ion can't get through the d-drone (yet another way ion stacking can fail); but had plenty of time for it, could cloak whenever any significant amount of enemy weapons lined up.
Sector 7 also Zoltan: Map reveal (I think this one "star charts" event in a zoltan sector is the only time it just happens without fighting or buying, always catches me off guard as a zoltan ship appears but it's not hostile.) Bought battery at first store, though that worked out badly... second store now THERE's a real weapon finally, can sell the swarm missile to afford it... but I wish I had that battery scrap back as the problem is that leaves very little scrap for repairs and this is my last chance! Didn't really want to sell the ion blast to afford repairs... not great but decided the best option was to sell one of the auto re-loaders. Racked up more scrap, enough to do weapons level 8, though not really confident in this awkward loadout.
Sector 8: Really hate starting sector 8 with less than full hull even after the 10-point repair, but I brought this on myself. Really need to reach a repair node, only option is the south one since the flagship will eat the other, long way but gotta try. Cloak NOW to fire that halberd!! (the burst lasers and an ion are currently in flight to punch the shields.) PHEW, made it to repairs - oh wow it repaired 12 health, thought it was either 5 or 10, actually don't know how much it does in total. Anyway, I finally now did what I should have done four hours ago, upgrade the artillery flak, we really do need it to clear the way for the Halberd, it's been far too tricksy a dance to win just regular fights, never mind the flagship.
Phase one: uggghh and of all things to get targeted by the hacking, it's the arty flak. Fortunately my BL2 hit all three shots to get a first stroke of the Halberd onto the missile weapon. Ion blast hit enough for the Halberd's second stroke to also get through (phase one only has 2 engines so low evasion), then more ion damage lasted just long enough (just wore off past the second flagship cloak) to kill on the third, somehow was a good fast win anyway although had no chance to cull crew. Phase two: all four preignited projectiles hit and I had another easy Halberd stroke, then the arty flak plus the second Halberd stroke connected to kill before the missile weapon ever launched. Phase three: as usual restarted back to base to clear crew, though didn't get much. Second try: stripped the super shield quickly of course with preignition and ion, but then 5/7 of the arty flak missed!!, but fortunately enough of the Burst 2 hit to clear the way for the Halberd. Quite a mess of boarders there, but we won on the second stroke of the arty flak plus halberd.
I'm not entirely sure I deserved that win. My build was a mess, the pre-igniter set me back a lot and was dumb, so was buying a Halberd with no shield-punching support while ignoring the artillery flak that was right there, assuming that we'd find some kind of projectiles to pre-ignite but that never came. That run grades as a D for strategic approach, but A for tactical execution, I gave myself poor resources but played sharply and correctly in using them and was never really in any serious danger. 2060 scrap is solid for boarding, needed the overkill thanks to managing it rather poorly. (The 411 evasions is because the evasion trainer ended up running for about 3 hours while I took a nap.)
Stats are now 27 games, 25 victories, with 23 unique ships, still running over 90%, and one of the losses (Fed A) came on redoing a ship for an unlock achievement.